Judith Bingham

b. 1952

British

Summary

Having studied composition and singing at the Royal Academy of Music, Judith Bingham sang with the BBC Singers for many years before leaving to concentrate fully on her composing career. Her prolific catalogue includes choral and vocal works, along with church and organ music.

Biography

Having studied composition and singing at the Royal Academy of Music, Judith Bingham sang with the BBC Singers for many years before leaving to concentrate fully on her composing career. Her prolific catalogue includes choral and vocal works, along with church and organ music.

Judith Bingham was born in Nottingham in 1952, and has written music since she was a small child. Largely self-taught, she also showed an early talent for singing, and started studying at the age of 16 with the bass John Dethick. She studied both singing and composition at the Royal Academy of Music from 1970-1973 and won the Principal’s Prize for Composition in 1972. On leaving the Academy, she studied composition privately with Hans Keller and singing with the noted Australian teacher Erich Vietheer.

Her 20s were spent composing largely chamber and vocal music, and she wrote for The King’s Singers, Peter Pears, The Songmaker’s Almanac, David Roblou, The Finchley Children’s Music Group, and several scores for BBC World Service and Open University TV drama. In 1976, she won the BBC Young Composer’s Award, and sang the winning entry, The Divine Image, on Radio 3. She wrote several pieces for the New London Consort, possibly one of the first composers to write new music for period instruments.

In the 80s, she joined the BBC Singers full time, and received a large number of choral commissions. Since then she has written for many professional and amateur choirs including the BBC Singers and Symphony Chorus, Tenebrae, the Joyful Company of Singers, Leeds Festival Chorus and The Finzi Singers, and several choirs in America, including Vocalessence in Minneapolis and The St. Louis Chamber Chorus. Philip Barnes, their conductor, has commissioned no less than seven pieces from her. In 2005 she won the Barlow Prize and wrote for the University of Utah Singers. The 80s also saw her starting to write for brass band, for which she’s written five pieces, including Prague: the first regional championship test piece to be written by a woman. She also wrote her first orchestral work: Chartres, which was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Jane Glover in 1993, and later revived as part of the RPS Encore project. She has had a long standing relationship with JAM, the John Armitage Memorial Trust, and has written several pieces for them, including My Heart Strangely Warm’d, and her oboe concerto The Angel of Mons, played by Nicholas Daniel at the Barbican, the first of which won a British Composer Award. Three other BCA’s followed.

She is a prolific writer of church and organ music, and has written seven Missa Brevis. She has formed associations with three cathedrals in Sweden, at Stockholm, Västerås and Kalmar, both of which have commissioned multiple pieces including a Mass for choir and two organs, and an organ duet. Recent commissions include her first string quartet for the Sacconi Quartet, Tricksters for the King’s Singers, Vanished London Churches for Tom Winpenny, a clarinet concerto for Michael Collins and a concerto for euphonium and Black Dyke Brass band.

Judith Bingham was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen in 2018, and an OBE in the 2020 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Performances

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